Fstoppers.com has featured some great behind the scenes videos over the years and showcased amazingly talented professional photographers in our Fstoppers Originals series. Recently Patrick and I were invited to Scottsdale, Arizona to expose the secrets of commercial photographer Blair Bunting. When Blair invited us down to Loft 19 Studios, his idea was to shoot something big, expensive, and one of a kind.
Blair is probably most known for his photographs of Darrelle Revis, Mike Tyson, Brett Michaels, Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch and Mythbusters, and tons of sports portraits (remember the strobist post?). So it was a bit of a shock when Blair suggested we film him shooting one of the first Lamborghini Aventadors to ship to North America. We weren't as familiar with Blair's car photography (he does a lot of it) but who were we to say no to shooting Lamborghinis out in the desert?
One thing Blair wanted to show in this video was how to cleanly light a sports car in the studio while also giving some practical tips on how you can light a car on a budget. For the studio shot, Blair used a 30' Chimera Softbox fitted with 4 Profoto Heads as the main "key light". The idea is to use a huge soft light source from above to paint on a soft specular highlight across the entire car's length. This accents most of the cars unique features and showcases the overall design of the car. Then using Profoto Pro 7a packs and single heads fitted with various degree grid spots, Blair kicked in narrow beams of hard light into sections of the car that were not properly lit from the Chimara above the car. It sounds a little overwhelming saying this car was only lit with nine lights, but honestly, high end car photography like this is often lit with an ungodly amount of studio lights and power packs.
Blair Bunting is famous for his crazy lighting setups but he also wanted to show how to light a car with a single light and a long exposure. Using only a Chimera Stripbox fitted with a constant light, Blair use the light painting technique over the course of a 10 second exposure to produce an image that in our opinion rivaled the full studio shot. It's pretty unbelievable that with some well crafted sweeps of the car, anyone can produce a well lit image that comes close to the much more expensive studio look. You can imagine how good the final image would look if you combined a few exposures and tightened up the thin stray lines of light caused from the light painting technique.
The final retouched image below was shot with the Nikon D3x DSLR camera and Blair's favorite lens of all time the Nikkor 24-70 2.8.
Click here to download the high res wallpaper.
Where is the video?
It's nice. However, the postprocessing is too aggressive. That pseudo-HDR look is too heavy, the lighting did a good job accentuating the hard lines of the car, why would you add such aggresive contrast in photoshop?
My sentiments exactly. All the transition areas between shadow and highlight have that cheapo HDR look. I love Fstoppers, but this is how NOT to shoot a car.
Guys, this is awesome! Great info again from start to finish!
Agreed. The HDR/Oversharpening really destroys the photo along with the poor choice of background- the car disappears right into it.
Should have used additional lights behind the car as a kicker to separate it or hit the background to again pull the car apart and make it stand out.
Not the best automotive photo i've ever seen.
i thought the warehouse background they dropped in looked awesome compared to the one used. i agree the car gets just alittle lost, nonetheless great shot
I agree with José and Nic. The shots during the shoot looked really great but then the post stuff is too heavy. The HDR makes the car look artificial and CG.
That's why he gets the big bucks!
The car on the plan background looked amazing, needing only to have equipment reflections eliminated. The overall PP of it made it look like a crappy HDR of a really nice car. A less intense edit on the same background would have been nice.
Nice, took a shot of that background a couple days ago remarkably. It's at the Aria in Vegas.
Ditto the above... and why crop it so tight and off center?? and seriously? a 30 foot softbox? (just jealous really)
Some great stuff in there!!
Great video. Very nice stuff and thanks for showing. This is the kind of stuff that Fstoppers was made on and needs to get back to.
we love making these but the production time to edit them takes a long time especially when we are full time working photographers...I'd love to have one of these every 2 or 3 weeks :)
Im not doubting that. We are all grateful for the work you and the staff here do for us. I personally just wish you got rid of some of the junk.
I actually liked the "budget" shot the best, where he went over once with a single light source...
And that pseudo-HDR as mentioned above is getting so overused. The car just looks flat, there is no depth and drama left. Don't fear the dark side! ;)
I agree with everyone else, that HDR crap makes it look like crap.
Great video, well shot. But honestly with the amount of resources the photographer had I'm very disappointed at the final image. You will definitely find photographers that can produce far better images with no assistant, no 30ft chimera bank, no studio, and who do their own post work. Great car, great video but poor photography.
I really liked the out-of-camera look, not a big fan of the final retouching though, too aggressive for me as well.
I've always wanted to try lighting my car up with just multiple exposures of one triggered flash (mostly because I only have one flash :( ). This light painting technique also produced a very intriguing image, I'm definitely going to give it a shot, after I give my new car a really good wash that is :P
Great video guys!! love the ending haha
There is a nice tutorial (rental) vid @ retouchpro called "BMW" with Ian Goode which I can recommend for retouching cars.
Watching Patrick and Lee's expressions again was priceless. Really fun project this was.
Awesome video guys! Thanks for putting it together. I'm not sure if I'm 100% sold on the final image, but it definitely has appeal. However, I do think it ended up a bit flat looking. Regardless, a badass car, cool bts, and a sweet video!
Wow, it's been a while since I've seen such a great BTS, EXCELLENT JOB GUYS!!
A desert dune backgroung would be more fitting,I believe ! Why mess up the beautiful auto with a distracting background ? KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid
The beautiful thing about art...there isn't a right way. He created what he wanted...you don't have to like it.
Good BTS video but really should'nt this post be entiltled "Blair Bunting & Scott Dorman"....this always cracks me up giving the photographer all the credit where if you look at the afterimage its nothing like the original. Sorry seen better with less resources and who do their own post work.
My eyes hurt just looking at it .... the potog did a good job..the retoucher destroyed it..
$60k in just lighting ... just one more point proof positive that it IS the equipment ... if it wasn't, bunting would have lit it with the 1 small softbox, and a used D70 ... try competing in an Indy 500 with a yugo and dollar store tool box; ain't gonna happen ...
as for the image: should have left it on the cyc BG ... KISS
looks awesome. love the crispness
the Faux-HDR is disappointing, Also the light bank was not used to its full potential. The photograph looks good, but In my opinion its over lit. cyc is too small, focal length too short, camera too high.
it doesn't look bad, i have seen far worse. but lets not use this to teach people how to light cars. oh and no you cant get the same results but a light on a stick. if you could, there would be no reason for a $13,000 light bank.
Great video! Keep 'em coming.
Do I like the final image? I preferred the warehouse concept.
I loved the multi-light setup and then introducing them one at a time to see the effect!!!
I am not a car guy, but I have been asked a couple times. I now have a better idea how I would approach it with my equipment. Thanks.
Patrick and Lee I think you guys were the last guys to see/photograph this car. Rob traded it in for the Mp4-12c shortly after.
I just wish he did something more like this:
wow that's a great video, I'll have to post it soon. The thing is, no car company would ever produce a final image like these Bugatti shots for an advertisement. They are lit more like they were in a museum or something and attempt to show as much detail as possible with no style whatsoever. Even Blair admits his own image is super retouched; the reality is the Lamborghini image looks much more like a contemporary ad found in today's magazines and billboards.
Great BTS Guys! Every guys dream to be in the same room as that car. Did anyone notice how dirty his sensor was? I'm glad I'm not the only one!
Ahhhh.. I love the subjective nature of photography. Only rival for opinions on a forum thread is a political topic. Sometimes I'd rather get stuck in a debate about abortion than another about what style photography looks more pleasing. Any of the above haters pick up a magazine in the past 5 years and looked at what advertisement execs are demanding in the look and style of images?? I am biased a bit because I've had the privilege to assist Blair in a couple high-end commercial shoots. But I have seen first hand the process. The production / advertisement crew from the hiring company know exactly what they want and they hire Blair because he can deliver. Excellent video. Very informative and creative. Can't ask for anything more than that!
I think the processing complements the aggressive nature of the car itself. I like both the photography and processing. Thanks for sharing the BTS guys always learn something.
With such expensive lighting used, no matter what you did in post, the light should finally have the last word. . . . with perfect highlights, etc, why make it look over processed, to the point where an HDR image distracts the eyes from the wonderful curves and angles the special lighting would create. . . . It's not ruined of course, but the image just look too harsh, imho.
I think my shot using less than 1k in equipment kills this one..
It's good, and Blair's second example was done with less than $1k in equipment as well. Doesn't have to be expensive.
Your shadows are too dark, and you needed more light on top of the car. It looks like a car that hasn't been completed by its manufacturer. Blair's shot is better......
To each his own on post-processing and "flavor" but IMHO Australian photographer Easton Chang made a great shot below. It's clean and focuses on the vehicle as the main subject matter ;-)
Seriously over processed. Why even bother shooting it with high end equipment if you are just going to ruin it with highpass/HDR gimmicks.
Slang (in our language) It's Strong!
Realy Good Work!!!
My try with canon 60d and 1 light 580exII HDR. It is pointless in my opinion to use that expensive equipement with so many lights and doing so hard HDR.
The best thing about photography is that we can each emphasize what we feel as important. When I look at a photo I try to guess the artist's intent. To me, this photo is about the agressive oragami-like angles of the car. Maybe that is why the background was chosen... to exaggerate the angularity and similarity in materials.
In this photo, I noticed the planes of the car more instead of the outer silhouette shape. Scott the retoucher painstakingly brought each crease and fold to life. Great care was used to make the car fit the final environment since the car was shot on white seamless. To my eye, the graduations and highlights are perfect. The lack of color was admittedly surprising, but that is the actual color of the car. If it was bright yellow, the photo's color might have been handled differently. This was a choice between the photographer and the retoucher. I guess the next time you guys get your hands on a rare supercar, you can shoot it your own way and we can all comment on that too.
The video shots were excellent as was the interview process that showed how the shot was conceptualized and completed. Kudos to everyone involved.
Does anyone else think the faux HDR look, just looks like noise? There's grain all over it and doesnt scream Hi-Res, as the title states. Bit of an anticlimax really!
uff it is so ugly. i prefer the original or the 5 sec version. :)